Your period is probably your least favorite part of the month — and think about how many years you’ll have to go through it!
As you age, your body also changes; so do your hormones and reproductive system. Although every menstruation will involve blood and pain, you’ll notice some changes as you get older.
What are these changes to expect? Read on to find out.
Tweens and teens
On average, menarche (or the first menstruation) happens between the ages of 8 to 14.
It’s common for your menstruation to be irregular and unpredictable during puberty. Some months could absolutely have no spot of blood, while other months could have very heavy blood flow.
This is because the hormone levels are also going through changes. It may take a few years for menstruation to be regular as hormones become more balanced and stable.
The menstrual cycle is more predictable and regular at this age for most women. On average, a menstrual cycle is 28 days long, but regular cycles can range from 21 to 35 days long.
Fertility is at its peak in this stage. This is the time the body is most prepared to carry a pregnancy. However, not all women would like to get pregnant soon (or ever), so they choose to use contraception to prevent pregnancy.
Some women may experience irregular menstruation at this age. Common causes include polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), chronic stress, thyroid problems, endometriosis, and more.
Besides preventing pregnancy, contraception may also help in regulating the menstrual cycle and alleviating extremely painful menstrual cramps.
It’s best to consult your doctor if:
- you have frequent bleeding or spotting between periods or after sex
- you have severe pain during or before your periods.
- your periods are unusually heavy, where you need to change your tampon or pad every hour or two, or you have to wear both a pad and a tampon
- heavy bleeding floods into your bed or through your clothes
- periods last longer than seven days
- periods become very irregular after you have had regular cycles.
For most women, menstruation during their early 30s is just like in their 20s.
While your 20s is said to be the prime time to have a baby, it doesn’t mean that deciding to get pregnant in your 30s is a bad idea. When you want to get pregnant — and whether you do want to get pregnant — is a personal choice.
But as you approach your late 30s, you might notice your menstruation becoming more irregular and unpredictable. That’s because you might already be kicking off a new journey: perimenopause, the stage right before actual menopause.
Hormones begin to change during perimenopause. It can last for a few months to several years. Most women enter the perimenopause stage after their mid-40s. Other women don’t experience this phase, and just enter menopause suddenly. During perimenopause, menstrual periods become irregular, and may become lighter or heavier than usual.
By the time you enter your 40s, your ovaries slow their estrogen production, which can cause your menstruation to get shorter and lighter, or come less frequently. This is one of the most obvious signs of perimenopause.
When you don’t menstruate for 12 consecutive months, then you’ve already entered menopause. This often happens in the late 40s or early 50s for most women.
Any kind of bleeding isn’t normal for postmenopausal women. So, it’s best to consult a doctor when this happens. It may be caused by endometrial cancer, a rare type of cancer that mostly occurs in women who are 50 years old and above.
Pain and abdominal cramps are often experienced when you are menstruating, but it is important to take pain seriously regardless of age.
Don’t hesitate to seek help from a doctor if you are experiencing any of the following:
- Painful periods
- Pain in the pelvic region
- Pain in the lower abdomen
- Lower back pain
- Long periods
- Heavy periods
- Clots in your periods
These symptoms may be signs of a menstrual disorder. They are common, but that doesn’t mean you have to endure the pain and discomfort.
Don’t hesitate to get help, especially when your menstruation has affected your daily activities.
Cleveland Clinic. (December 27, 2021). Is My Period Normal? How Menstrual Cycles Change with Age. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/is-my-period-normal-how-your-menstrual-cycle-change-as-you-age/
Healthy Set Go Team. (August 25, 2020). Is this normal? Your period in your 20s, 30s, and 40s. AllinaHealth. https://www.allinahealth.org/healthysetgo/care/is-this-normal-your-period-in-your-20s-30s-and-40s
Thomason, K. (November 11, 2022). How Your Period Changes As You Age. Health. https://www.health.com/condition/menstruation/period-changes-age
Wojcik, G. (December 27, 2019). Know Your Flow: How Periods Change as You Get Older. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/period-changes-20s-30s-40s-50s